KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 8): Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak downplayed a shocking audio clip of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor purportedly “advising” him on how to sort matters with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and Mubadala Development Co managing director Khaldoon Al Mubarak that was released by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), by saying there was nothing wrong with him having a private conversation with his wife.
He told the press after his SRC International Sdn Bhd trial today that “it was normal” for him to discuss these things privately with his wife.
“Conversations between my wife and I are private, you also speak to your wife. What’s wrong with that? That’s a right of every citizen to discuss as long as you don’t leak it to everyone,” he said.
He also said he was not influenced by his wife because he made the final decision.
“It’s a normal thing. Everyone can give an opinion, but I make the decisions,” the former premier said.
Najib also denied he was being scolded by his wife in the conversation, saying it was a normal conversation between a husband and wife.
He added that the release of these clips will have dire consequences for diplomatic ties between Malaysia and other nations, as one of the leaked recordings involved conversations between Najib and parties from the United Arab Emirates including UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Khaldoon.
“I was the sitting prime minister at the time this was done; this has effects on diplomatic ties with Malaysia and other countries, why did they release the tape at this moment? This happened five years ago,” he said.
He noted that this sets a dangerous precedent for other incoming prime ministers, as their private conversations can also be wiretapped.
“Wiretapping a sitting prime minister’s phone is very dangerous; it sets a precedent that all other prime ministers conversations will be wiretapped. Are you encouraging it?” he questioned MACC chief Latheefa Koya.
Najib also questioned the timing of the release, claiming this was done to coincide with the Kimanis by-election that is currently ongoing.
Najib’s govt made it legal to wiretap, says lawyer
Syahredzan Johan, a lawyer and political secretary to Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang, tweeted that it was Najib’s regime which introduced legal provisions — namely the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) — that allowed interception of communications.
“You know what’s ironic? It was Najib’s government who introduced amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to allow for interception, listening and recording of communications in 2012.
“Yeah, Najib’s government made it legal for the government to spy on you,” he said.
He specifically named Section 116(c) of the CPC, which allowed a public prosecutor to authorise a police officer to “intercept, listen to or record any conversation by communication”.
The section also enables the public prosecutor to “require a communications service provider to intercept and retain a specified communication or communications of a specified description received or transmitted, or about to be received or transmitted by that communications service provider”, or authorise a police officer to enter any premises and install devices for the interception and retention of specified communication.
Moreover, the evidence is admissible in court.
Similarly, Section 6 of Sosma states that a public prosecutor may authorise a police officer to “interept or listen to any conversation by any communication”, and “may require a communications service provider to intercept and retain” specified communication.
In addition, if a police officer not below the rank of superintendent wants to intercept any convesation by any communication urgently, he/she may do so without the authorisation of the public prosecutor, although they would have to immediately inform the prosecutor.
Shafee mulls contempt bid against MACC, commissioner
Meanwhile, Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah said the audio clips are subjudice and is considering contempt action against Latheefa, because the recordings involve the SRC, 1MDB and Riza Aziz’s trials.
“We are seriously contemplating a contempt action against MACC and Latheefa. I think as a lawyer, although she refuses to admit it, she should know it’s contemptuous. Is MACC trying to influence the ongoing trial?” he asked.
At a press conference today, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya played nine clips of phone conversations between Jan 5, 2016 and July 29, 2016, across nearly 45 minutes combined.
The recordings, she said, were received by the MACC “after the new year” (January 2020).
The clips are in three parts. One part was between Najib and a person MACC identified as his wife Rosmah Mansor, where Rosmah was heard shouting at Najib to “advise” him on the matter.
From the conversation, it appears Rosmah was actively in the know about the politics surrounding Najib.
There was unhappiness towards former MACC chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim’s role in the investigations into Najib, who told the press in June 2016 that there was no pressure for him to resign from the anti-graft agency.
Rosmah also advised Najib to bypass his then-special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin to communicate with Khaldoon, and to invite Khaldoon to their home to discuss the tangle-up and resolve it once and for all.
After the recordings were played, Latheefa said: “Based on our understanding, there are signs of abuse of power, obstruction of justice and fabrication of false evidence, based on the recording.”
Latheefa said the recording will be given to the relevant authorities, while it continues with its part of the investigation.
The Edge is reporting the proceedings of the SRC trial live.